Saturday, January 4, 2014

Review: Kindoma Storytime - read with family far away

Purpose of the App:  Combines books and video chat to allow children to read with family members who travel or live far away.

Strengths:  This is a fabulous concept.  It's a great way to keep very young children more involved in video chats with long-distance family members.

Weaknesses:  The in-app purchases can add up quickly unless you buy the monthly subscription.  

Suggested Audience:  The books are best suited for children under six or seven and any family member who, for whatever reason, can't be there to read in person. 

Star Rating Breakdown
Meets Intended Goal:  5
Entertainment:  5
Worth the Price:  4
Ease of Use: 4
Educational Value: 4
Level of Customization: 5

If you are interested in downloading Kindoma Storytime (FREE, iPad only), please support Smart Apps for Special Needs by using our link:


This app contains no ads.  There are in-app purchases to buy individual books as well as a subscription option for the entire (ever growing) library for $6.99 per month.  External links are in a "for grown ups" section and require the user to swipe down with two fingers to access.  These links are used to invite other family members to the app.

The holidays are over and whether you live across town or across the country, chances are you won't be seeing your loved ones with the same frequency.  This app can help maintain those family bonds all year long, no matter how far apart friends or family live.  It's also a great way for parents who travel for work to stay involved in the bedtime routine.

After downloading the app (for FREE) you will be prompted to create an account with a profile image and password.  All of the account screens are "gated" as they require you to swipe down with 2 fingers in order to access.  You are now ready to invite others to join.  Click the box in the upper left side of the screen to send invites.  You, then, add an email address and a label such as "Grandma's house".  When the invitee accepts they will create their account with a picture.  Until they accept, the box will say "pending".  You can add as many other users as you wish.  Just click on their profile image to call and story time begins.

You begin with two books and can add several free titles from the bookstore.  There are over 200 additional books that can be purchased individually or for $6.99 a month you can subscribe to unlimited access to all titles.  Your iTunes account will be automatically billed each month with this option.  New titles are being added all the time.  Clicking on each title in the library allows you to see the author, age range, publisher, # of pages and language of each book.  There are a few Spanish titles also.  You can preview a few pages of each book before you decide to purchase.    

During a call, either participant can select a book.  Your titles will be listed under "My Books" and your guest's titles will also appear under their name (ex:  Grandma's books).  You may select a book from either set.  The page turns are synchronized on both sides and you can also "see" what the other person is pointing to or highlight words as you read.  The digital library allows you to pick titles based on your child's reading levels.  You can read to them or have them practice reading to you.

This is such a genius concept.  My own children love to video chat with their young cousins, but the conversations are typically short and consist of lots of yes/no questions and answers.  This app gives some purpose to video chats with far away family members and it's educational too.  The set up was fairly easy and there are lots of books to choose from.  I think the prices for the books seem a little high especially for basic children's books, but that is probably to encourage people to spring for the monthly subscription.  It is great that the app itself is free and there are at least a dozen free titles.  I'm hoping the digital library will continue to grow and offer a greater diversity of books.  Overall, this is a wonderful app that brings family together using technology.  I would highly recommend trying it out.  

From iTunes:
Give your child a head start in life with Kindoma Storytime, the recipient of 2013 Editor's Choice Award from Children's Technology Review. Kindoma Storytime combines the best of children's learning and family communication by combining books and videochat to help children connect with their long-distance families, especially parents and grandparents. 
Kindoma Storytime offers a large digital library handpicked by experts that can be filtered based on your child’s reading levels. Our library of books is constantly changing and growing, so keep coming back to see what is new. This free app comes with access to more than 10 free books and for only $6.99 per month a "Kindoma Membership" provides unlimited access to all of the books in our digital bookstore. 
Start using Kindoma Storytime today: 
- First, register for an account to unlock more books. 
- Second, invite your family to connect. 
- Third, browse the library and pick out your favorite books. 
- Then, call your family and start reading together! 

How Kindoma Storytime works: 
While you are together in a call or next to each other, the book selections and page turns are synchronized on both sides. You can point to things on the page and the other side can see where you are pointing. Use this feature to highlight words as you read, or ask questions and have the children point to things on the page. 
 Become a Kindoma Member: 
Subscribe to the "Kindoma Membership" to get unlimited access to the entire catalog of books. Payment will be charged to iTunes Account at confirmation of purchase. The "Kindoma Membership" subscription automatically renews unless auto-renew is turned off at least 24-hours before the end of the current period. Your account will be charged $6.99 for renewal within 24-hours prior to the end of the current period. Subscriptions may be managed by the user and auto-renewal may be turned off by going to the user's Account Settings after purchase. No cancellation of the current subscription is allowed during the active subscription period. 
We hope you have a wonderful adventure together in Kindoma! Enjoy reading together, and let us know if you have any comments or questions. Your feedback is very important to us: 
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Since winter break is almost over, Sarah has begun her countdown to Spring Break!

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